Our founder’s son Surjo Sekhar Basu was born with Down’s Syndrome. While Surjo was young, his mother Mrs. Basu realised that Surjo liked music and would try to express himself by moving with the rhythm. Mrs. Basu, decided to focus and develop Surjo’s interest in dance and music further, and worked tirelessly over the course of a few years. The end result was that Surjo was able to go up on stage and perform a complete dance routine spanning multiple songs and complex movement patterns.
At Behala Anwesha The Quest, we took this forward and have seen our students successfully put together multiple performances to great acclaim. As parents of students who suffer from multiple disabilities, we are extremely proud of the great achievements of our wards. Our dance team has performed in front of the Indian Army’s leadership in Delhi, in Mumbai as well as internationally in Bangladesh.
We use a multi-stage process for Dance Therapy. In general, our approach is as follows
- Induction Stage: Welcoming new students can be a prolonged phase as most students do not like much change to their established routine. For new inductees into the NGO, we start off by having them listen to soothing music with a gentle rhythm. We encourage the students to clap or nod in time with the music to help generate a an overall vibe of positivity and well-being.
- Movement Initiation Stage: Once the student is comfortable with the environment at our center, we encourage them to start expressing themselves via dance. We follow multiple Indian classical dance routines and gently glide the students into this. We guide the movements of the students’ hands to be as close to the authentic dance poses and forms.
- Simple Dance Stage: To retain the interest of the student, we start off by playing small sections of a song. We build up the time duration gradually and have the students memorise a sequence of dance steps. We also explain the lyrics of the song and the mood, season, emotion that it is trying to convey. Some students are able to successfully emote the meaning of the song while others are able to support the overall mood by their movements.
- Complete Dance Stage: After a large number of sessions, we have the students perform internally within our center and in some functions like our Annual Day. Reaching this stage takes time, patience and a lot of practice. We keep repeating the same songs and dance routines so that the students become completely comfortable with the sequence.
- Public Performance Stage: This is the final stage of our approach. We keep having performances at various events throughout the year. For each event, we have a selected set of songs and dance choreographies that we have our students perform. Depending on the event location, audience and season and including the inputs from the event organisers, we perform various dance routines. While we encourage our students to participate in as many events as possible, various factors such as the health of the students, logistics and other practicalities mean that they have to drop out very occasionally.
We have had psychologists, doctors and specialists who deal with people with disabilities review our approach. Based on their inputs, we have refined and augmented our approach to be both scientific yet enjoyable for our students. We look to constantly improve and grow so that we can help our students better. As our NGO grows, we hope that we can support formal research activities and benefit from a sharing of ideas and practices.